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Texting with a washing machine: hands-on with LG's HomeChat

Texting with a washing machine: hands-on with LG's HomeChat

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From Siri to Google Now, every company wants to make interacting with technology a bit more natural. LG is now extending that idea to smart appliances with a new service called HomeChat, but it isn't focused on using your voice — it's instead based around the instant message.

Your washing machine can send you stickers

The service lets owners of a new LG smart washer, drier, fridge, air conditioner, or vacuum cleaner control functions of their appliances just by sending a message. You could tell the washer to start a load of laundry, have your vacuum stop cleaning before you get home, or turn off your air-conditioner if you plan on staying out of the house.

But rather than making HomeChat a standalone app, LG is trying to build it into popular messaging services to make talking to it feel all the more natural. Right now, it's only built into Line, but LG says that it's working toward launching the service on WhatsApp and the popular Korean messaging service Kakao Talk as well.

Though the conceit is a bit convoluted — LG does have standalone apps that can perform these functions already, after all — interacting with the appliances over Line is surprisingly fun. When you start a load of laundry, HomeChat will message you back with a big sticker of a smiling cartoon washer and a bunny laying out a shirt. When the load finishes, it'll alert you with another big sticker to tell you that it's done.

LG's texting smart appliances


Interacting with HomeChat isn't always perfect though. Unlike your friends, HomeChat doesn't understand your typos or your less-than-perfect wording. It also had some trouble connecting to appliances when we saw it at LG's CES booth, but the service is still just a prototype and those kinks could be worked out.

LG hopes to have HomeChat available through Line late this year. If for nothing else, owners may find themselves starting up their appliances this way just so they can get stickers back in return.